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Catechism of the Catholic Church

God's promise and the prayer of Faith

2570 When God calls him, Abraham goes forth "as the Lord had told him"; 8 Abraham's heart is entirely submissive to the Word and so he obeys. Such attentiveness of the heart, whose decisions are made according to God's will, is essential to prayer, while the words used count only in relation to it. Abraham's prayer is expressed first by deeds: a man of silence, he constructs an altar to the Lord at each stage of his journey. Only later does Abraham's first prayer in words appear: a veiled complaint reminding God of his promises which seem unfulfilled. 9 Thus one aspect of the drama of prayer appears from the beginning: the test of faith in the fidelity of God.

2571 Because Abraham believed in God and walked in his presence and in covenant with him, 10 the patriarch is ready to welcome a mysterious Guest into his tent. Abraham's remarkable hospitality at Mamre foreshadows the annunciation of the true Son of the promise. 11 After that, once God had confided his plan, Abraham's heart is attuned to his Lord's compassion for men and he dares to intercede for them with bold confidence. 12

2572 As a final stage in the purification of his faith, Abraham, "who had received the promises," 13 is asked to sacrifice the son God had given him. Abraham's faith does not weaken ("God himself will provide the lamb for a burnt offering."), for he "considered that God was able to raise men even from the dead." 14 And so the father of believers is conformed to the likeness of the Father who will not spare his own Son but wiLl deliver him up for us all. 15 Prayer restores man to God's likeness and enables him to share in the power of God's love that saves the multitude. 16

2573 God renews his promise to Jacob, the ancestor of the twelve tribes of Israel. 17 Before confronting his elder brother Esau, Jacob wrestles all night with a mysterious figure who refuses to reveal his name, but he blesses him before leaving him at dawn. From this account, the spiritual tradition of the Church has retained the symbol of prayer as a battle of faith and as the triumph of perseverance. 18

Notes:

8 Gen 12:4.

9 Cf. Gen 15:2 f.

10 Cf. Gen 15:6; 17:1 f.

11 Cf. Gen 18:1-15; Lk 1:26-38.

12 Cf. Gen 18:16-33.

13 Heb 11:17.

14 Gen 22:8; Heb 11:19

15 Rom 8:32.

16 Cf. Rom 8:16-21.

17 Cf. Gen 28:10-22.

18 Cf. Gen 32:24-30; Lk 18:1-8.

English Translation of the Cathechism of the Catholic Church for the United States of America © 1997, United States Catholic Conference, Inc.

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